Letting Go of Our Innocence

 A meditation by Richard Rohr

We come to God not by doing it right, but by doing it wrong. And yet the great forgiveness is to forgive ourselves for doing it wrong. That’s probably the hardest forgiveness of all: that I’m not perfect, that I’m not unwounded, I’m not innocent. “One always learns one’s mystery at the price of one’s innocence.” If I want to maintain an image of myself as innocent, superior, righteous, or saved, I can only do that at the cost of truth. I have to reject the mysterious side, the shadow side, the broken side, the unconscious side of almost everything.  

The art of letting go really is the way to heaven because when we fall down there to the bottom, we fall on solid ground, the great foundation. . . . On that foundation where we have nothing to prove, nothing to protect, we have met the enemy and the enemy is us. I am who I am who I am, and for some unbelievable reason, that’s what God has chosen to love. . . .

Letting go is different than denying or repressing. To let go of it, we have to admit it. We have to own it. Letting go is different than turning it against our self. Letting go is different than projecting onto others. Letting go means that the denied, repressed, rejected parts of our own self which are nonetheless true are seen for what they are, but not turned against self or against others, so letting go is not denial. It’s not pretend. The religious word for letting go is the word “forgiveness.” This is the positive way to deal with our own woundedness. We see it and we hand it over to God. We hand it over to history. . . . 

The mode of weeping, of crying, is different than fixing. It’s different than understanding. That’s why we often cry when we forgive. . . . When we can’t fix it, when we can’t explain it, when we can’t control it, when we can’t even understand it, we can only forgive it. Let go of it, weep over it. It’s a different mode of being. . . .

I can see why forgiveness is almost the heart of the matter, and Jesus’ prerequisite for being forgiven by God is simply to forgive one another. . . . Jesus said we will receive the forgiveness of God to the degree that we can be conduits of forgiveness for one another. In other words, forgiveness is of one piece. Those who give it can receive it. Those who receive it can give it. If we’re in the conduit of love, if we’re in the ocean of mercy, frankly, it’s the only thing that makes sense.  

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